Lens on spirit of globalization

There is a peculiar quality about the Skopelos Photographic Center. Located on the beautiful yet isolated island of Skopelos, whose population amounts to 3,000 in the winter, the center puts on exhibitions covering ambitious themes – and it does so successfully. Exhibitions of such caliber are rarely seen in Athens. Prepared with abundant effort and knowledge, they deserve to transcend the island’s confines. The center’s latest exhibition, on globalization, which is titled «The Spirit of Globalization,» opened earlier this month and completes a trilogy launched two years ago. The three-part series was preceded by exhibitions covering religion and family. Globalization, as a term, is so vast and vague that it ends up being banal. The exhibition’s curator, Vangelis Ioakeimidis, who is the center’s director, has managed the theme coherently and depicted it through the work of the artists, and not through heavy analysis that is not justified by the works themselves. The exhibition has been divided into three categories, Boundaries, Modern Postures, and Common Places. The first segment, based mainly on documentary photography and anthropocentric imagery, examines the human condition today. The exhibition begins in the best possible fashion with work by the deeply humanistic Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado. Commonly seen images of miners amid destructive conditions preserve the potency of first sight. Placed next to this classic artist’s work is a photo-sketch by the French-Slovenian Klavdij Sluban, which is wayward and intensely anthropocentric. George Georgiou, a London-based artist of Cypriot extraction, presents compact coverage of the Balkan fronts during wartime and ethnic cleansing. His images, rugged and eloquent, depict fine details that could not fit into any television screen – bowed heads, hope suppressed, life and death. Dutch photographer Ad van Denderen’s portrayal of immigrants entering Europe from every part of the «Other World» is an equally dynamic visual documentary. Asians in transit in Istanbul, tightly packed Albanians, Kurds in cardboard boxes for homes – the images are simple and so familiar that they become overwhelming. The exhibition’s second part, Modern Postures, depicts similarities that run through contemporary societies in the West. Highlights here include photos by Irishman Anthony Haughey, Swiss artist Beat Streuli, and Swede Lars Tunbjork. The exhibition’s final segment, Common Places, is dominated by the well-known British photographer Martin Parr and Spaniard Jordi Bernado. Parr captures today’s world as a generalized form of kitsch, in extremely stylized form. Paradoxically, Parr’s work here does not convey a sense of irony. It simply reveals, possibly with some affection. Without a doubt, it is the most luminous part of a weighty exhibition. Bernado’s work is as good. It has similar intentions, which, however, are expressed in a more reflective, abstract fashion, lacking movement. On display is work by Finnish artist Sade Kahra, which is also very worthwhile. Graphic art by American Neil Winohur appears intelligent but lacks soul, as if it has been taken from a Benetton magazine. The show’s curator has managed to prepare a convincing and accessible exhibition on a demanding subject, one that has been frequently tackled by various shows in recent years, often unsuccessfully. All that now remains is for this exhibition to travel beyond Skopelos.